24 Bring More Love Into Your Partner Relationship

Based on Research by Richard Stuart, Ph.D.. Psychology Science Minute written by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D..

Psychology Science Minute brought to you by the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.

Has your marriage fallen into a routine, and lost that spark from when you first met?   How to bring the love and caring back?

Based on the principle that people tend to respond positively to those who act positively towards them, psychologist Richard Stuart devised a technique called “The Caring Days” to encourage this process of change in couples experiencing marital distress. First, partners each make a list of behaviors that if their partner did for them would make them feel cared for (small, specific, positive acts done daily, not about a recent conflict).  Both agree to 18 items, such as “take me out on a date,” “encourage my ambitions,” or “give me a compliment.” Stuart then asked them to choose 5 behaviors from the list daily for two weeks and do them whether or not their partner did any. Performing these caring behaviors, even if they do not feel loving in the beginning, will gradually have a positive effect on the relationship. Charting kind acts serves as a reminder.

Craig LeCroy and colleagues verified the effectiveness of Caring Days to enhance relationship satisfaction with a controlled experiment using average married folks. Those using Caring Days showed more positive changes compared with the control group.

So when things are distant at home take the time to reconnect by having Caring Days!  Try it!

That’s your Florida Tech Psychology Science Minute. I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.


LeCroy, Craig W., Carrol, Pam, & Nelson-Becker, Holly. (1989). An Experimental Evaluation Of The Caring Days Technique For Marital Enrichment. Family Relations, 38, 1, pp. 15-18.

Stuart, Richard B. (1980). Helping couples change: A social learning approach to marital therapy. New York: Guilford Press.

Stuart, R. B. (2004). Helping couples change: A social learning approach to marital therapy. Paperback edition. New York: Guilford Press.

Other caring ideas to suggest:

  • “invite me out on a date,”
  • “suggest we do something together that you think we’d both like”
  •  “tell me something you appreciate that I did for you,”
  • “give me affection, hold my hand.”
  • “look at me in the eye and smile,”
  • “share your needs with me.”
  • “respect me when asking me to do something by saying “please,”
  • “ask me about what I saw, learned, or experienced when I went somewhere,”
  •  “encourage my ambitions,”
  • “do what you say you’ll do.”
  • “openly share with me anything and everything.”
  • “apologize or say you’re sorry when you think you’ve made a mistake or hurt me.”
  • “speak to me in a kind tone of voice, even when you want me to change.”
  • “let me know what and when I make you happy.”
  • “listen to me showing me you are by commenting or asking questions about what I am saying.”
  • “suggest how we could have fun together.”
  • “muse out loud to me…what you are thinking, feeling, wanting…”
  • “recognize and let me know when I do something well, that is encouraging.”
  • “give me a small gift—a flower, a piece of chocolate, a song or poem.”
  • “ask me what you can do to lighten my load today.”
  • “always tell me the truth so I can trust you completely.”
  • “spend time with me, go with me places just to enjoy being with me.”
  • “bring me something you noticed or found that I’d be interested in,”
  • “reveal to me for what you are grateful…about anything.
  • “hug me, touch my arm, or put your arm around my shoulder affectionately,”
  • “help me with something when I’m struggling with it,”
  • “surprise me with something you think I’d like.”
  • “say ‘goodnight,’ ‘good morning,’ or ‘goodbye’ with, ‘I love you.'”
  • “give me a compliment…tell me what you like that I did or said.”

What would you add?  What would make you feel that you were loved and appreciated?

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